In the only shakeup in Semifinals competition Friday, Aug. 10, Crossmen (84.90, 12th) passed up Blue Stars (84.60, 13th) for the first time in the 2012 season, claiming the last coveted spot in the Finals.
"It's an amazing feeling," Crossmen brass captain Josh Sears said about qualifying. "I'm so excited. So happy. I've stuck with the corps, working, pushing for this to happen, and it's finally happened."
He said alumni — “Crossmen Nation” — are thrilled to see the corps back in Finals. Their last appearance was in 2004, back before they moved to San Antonio from Allentown, Pa.
"As soon as the news broke, everyone just went crazy," Sears said. "My phone has already been blowing up with alumni texting me."
Crossmen Drum Major Hunter Bown interviewed immediately after the corps' Semifinals performance.
Blue Stars has appeared in Finals for the past four years, reappearing in the lineup after falling out beginning in the 1980s. The corps was a founding member of DCI, placing second in the first DCI World Championship.
"Our corps motto is 'Finis Coronat Opus,' or 'The End Crowns the Work,'" Blue Stars color guard captain Kekoa Amteo said. "And if this is the end, then our work crowned it. I'm just as gracious and as blessed to be with these people than I have been any other part of my life."
Blue Stars snare drummer Luke Sesker said their Semifinals performance, although not perfect, was solid and a strong finish to their 2012 season.
"Considering where we started and how far we came, we can do nothing but hold our heads high and be proud of where we're at," Sesker said.
Blue Devils (98.20) kept their death grip on first place, keeping Carolina Crown (97.45) in second. Crown narrowed the gap between the two corps by two-tenths of a point. Just .75 now separates the corps.
"Today's performance was excellent," Blue Devils' horn sergeant David Reaver said. "I thought we threw down last night, but there's always that first-time jitters when you get to Championships. We stomped all that out, and we're primed for tomorrow."
With their penultimate performance in the books, Blue Devils are now one step closer to completing another perfect season and claiming their 15th World Championship title. The corps' last title was in 2010.
"Being a Blue Devil is always great, but we're undefeated and this week especially has gone great," Reaver said. "The Blue Devils always finish off strong. Finals week is always the best week to be a Blue Devil."
Phantom Regiment (95.70, 3rd) maintained their lead over The Cadets (94.10, 4th), with the margin increasing to 1.60 points. Phantom Regiment increased their score by 1.10 points, and The Cadets increased by 0.05. Santa Clara Vanguard (93.70, 5th) and Bluecoats (92.80, 6th) followed behind, each with an increase of roughly half a point.
The Cavaliers (89.40, 7th) were one of only three corps to go down in score from Prelims to Semifinals. With Boston Crusaders (89.30, 8th) increasing their score by three-tenths, the gap between the two corps closed to one-tenth of a point.
"Tonight's performance was great," Boston Crusaders drum major Thompson Vou said. "There was so much more clarity and energy, and it felt great coming off the field."
After their performance, he said he was hoping his corps would move up one spot in the rankings.
"We'll keep on pushing for that," Vou said. "But we don't get bogged down too much. We've just got to max out what we can do."
Boston Crusaders director Tom Spataro said the corps had a great Semifinals performance, better than their Prelims run. He said on the second night of performing, everybody is more comfortable and keyed into the acoustic environment.
Although still in 10th place, Blue Knights (87.65) inched closer to Madison Scouts (88.80, 9th) and further distanced themselves from Spirit of Atlanta (85.65, 11th).
Following Crossmen and Blue Stars was Glassmen (82.25, 14th). In 15th place, The Academy (81.90) broke the 80-point barrier for the first time this season. The corps also posted the largest score increase from Prelims to Semifinals.
And after a season of swapping spots, Pacific Crest (80.25, 16th) ended up ahead of both Colts (79.20, 17th) and Troopers (77.65, 18th).
"Tonight's performance was a culmination of all the hard work we've put in all season," Pacific Crest drum major Tim Yao said. "Every show we've been getting better. Every run through, we're better and better. Tonight was the pinnacle of all our hard work this year."
For Troopers drum major Alex Lackey, Semifinals was his last performance with his corps of four years, a group he said he feels an indescribable amount of love for. In his leadership role with the Troopers, Lackey gained notoriety due to his "slow walk" at drum major retreats.
"It's something that's been going on forever," he said. "I guess I made a couple of people mad. I heard about the online message board threads and stuff like that, but it's just tradition. And I was going to uphold that whether people liked it or not."
Oregon Crusaders (77.45, 19th) increased their lead on Jersey Surf (75.45, 20th) and stayed ahead of their Open Class brethren Blue Devils B (73.60, 21st) and Vanguard Cadets (72.75, 22nd). Mandarins (71.60, 23rd), Spartans (70.75, 24th) and Cascades (68.75, 25th) rounded out the bottom three spots.
Cascades drum major Caitlin Heber said despite not having their signature Cascade-green plumes or shakos for their Semifinals run, it was a fantastic performance.
"Our plume boxes somehow got misplaced and got left at our school," she said. "So we performed without shakos, because the uniform really isn't complete without the plume and shako."
In her second year with Cascades, Heber said she plans to return for a third.